The recently released 2017 UNICEF Report Card ranks the world's 41 high-income countries on issues of the welfare of children and youth. On youth suicide, UNICEF ranks Canada the seventh highest rate of suicide deaths between the ages of 15-19 (ranked out of 37 high-income countries). That's a higher than average rate of suicide among young people in our country.

The report states: "Untreated Depression significantly increases the risk of suicide. Even though effective treatments are available, most Canadian youth with Depression do not seek appropriate treatment or have efficient access to appropriate care, because we don't make it easy or appealing."

Children's Mental Health Ontario and its nearly 100 members across Ontario have been sounding the alarm that access to kid's mental healthcare is in crisis. We know that children, youth and families are not getting the care they need, when they need it because wait times are too long -- in some parts of Ontario, kids wait more than a year for care.

Canadian research indicates that 1 in 4 children and youth are currently living with a mental illness. Some of these children and youth have serious and even life-threatening issues, including depression, suicidal thoughts and addictions. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for youth 10-24.

Because there is a lack of focus on intervention, kids end up in crisis and in the hospital: in-patient admissions for children and youth with mental illness in Ontario have increased by a startling 42 per cent and emergency room visits have risen by 50 per cent, for example. Tragically, too many of our children die by suicide while waiting for care.

We need to make it easy for children and youth to get the care they need early on. That is why Children's Mental Health Ontario is calling on Premier Wynne and the Government of Ontario to make children's mental health a priority and increase funding to reduce wait times. No child should be made to wait more than 30 days for mental health care -- less if they are in crisis.